Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School senior Keegan Burger used the opening day of the Western Slope Open Tournament in Grand Junction on Friday to introduce himself to the rest of the state and announce that he has a chance to compete for a state title at No. 1 singles.
Burger, who originally was slated for No. 2 singles but moved up after Steamboat’s expected top player fell to injury, advanced to today’s finals.
He beat Denver East’s Jake Malman, a player he lost to the same tournament last season and had never beaten before, 4-6, 6-2, 14-12.
“I was nervous,” Burger said. “We played each other in tournaments three years now. Every one has been tough.”
After dropping the first set, Burger quickly rebounded to win the second. In the 10-point tiebreaking third set, Burger jumped out to a 7-2 lead. It was tied at 7 and then 12 when it got testy.
Malman questioned several calls, but Burger held his ground, winning the next two points to win the match.
The change in attitude and relaxing were the key, which Burger admits he struggled with last season.
“I just think it’s my mental game,” Burger said. “I’m keeping my head. That’s the main factor. This definitely boosts my confidence, but I have another match (today). He’s another undefeated kid.”
Burger plays at 10 a.m. today against Grand Junction’s Spencer Weinberg.
As for the rest of the team, Steamboat remained alive in every spot.
At No. 2 singles, Mirko Erspamer is playing for seventh and eighth place.
The rest of the team — Jack Burger at No. 3 singles, Kyle Rogers and Luke Farny at No. 1 doubles, Gabri Erspamer and Colin Green at No. 2 doubles, Erik Owen and Stefan Sortland at No. 3 doubles and Lev Tsypin and Corbin Diehl at No. 4 doubles — all are playing for fifth and sixth place.